Holy flying ratings! Monty Python comedy secures half a million viewers for BBC4

The Life of Brian controversy reimagined attracts a good crowd


534,000 people tuned in to see Holy Flying Circus last night on BBC4, 2.4 per cent of all viewers watching television between 9pm and 10:30pm, according to overnight figures.


The quirky comedy drama, which focused on the controversy surrounding the 1979 film Monty Python’s Life of Brian, also attracted a good deal of attention on Twitter during its broadcast – with both #flyingcircus and “Monty Python” trending throughout the evening.  

Despite delivering ratings far above average for the time-slot, Holy Flying Circus failed to reach the dizzy heights of some of BBC4’s other dramas in the past few years – notably Hattie, a biopic of Hattie Jacques, which smashed records with 1.6 million viewers (a 7.1 per cent share) in January 2011. 

The Python programme produced a narrow win for BBC4 over its digital cousin, BBC3, which drew 453,000 viewers (a 2.6 per cent share) for horror drama The Fades between 9pm and 10pm.


Elsewhere, ITV’s digital ratings behemoth The Only Way Is Essex continued to prosper in series three, pulling in a very respectable 938,000 viewers (4.9 per cent share) for ITV2.  Nearly 200,000 eager Essex fans also watched an hour later on ITV2+1.